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Four killed in Assam, witchcraft suspected
GUWAHATI, JUNE 21 (IANS):
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Published on 21 Jun. 2011 10:08 PM IST
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Four members of a tribal family were found killed and their faces and bodies burnt with acid in Assam Tuesday. Police suspect the murders to be linked to black magic and witchcraft practices.
A police spokesperson said the bodies were recovered from under a culvert at the Monabari tea garden in northern Assam, about 200 km from here. “It seems the victims were first battered with some blunt weapon and then acid was poured on them. The bodies were then dragged out and left under a culvert,” a police officer said.
“There is a strong suspicion that the killings were spurred by superstitious beliefs,” he added.
The victims include 46-year-old Binanda Gaur, a plantation worker at the Monabari tea garden, his wife, 15-year-old daughter Naina, and another of their relative, a teenaged boy. Locals told the police that an elderly neighbour of Binanda Gaur fell sick recently and the family held a ritual involving drinking locally brewed moonshine and dancing accompanied by chanting of religious hymns.
“We were told the ritual was carried out to find if the person fell sick due to some influence by supernatural powers or by someone practicing witchcraft,” the officer said. The family that carried the ritual is absconding, leading to doubts that they could have been involved in the crime.
Black magic, witchcraft and superstitious beliefs have been part of the tribal customs in parts of Assam, Tripura and other northeastern states. Many tribal communities practice indigenous faiths and resort to such rituals in treating ailments. At least 200 people have been killed during the past five years for allegedly practising sorcery and witchcraft, mostly in tribal-dominated areas of western and northern Assam.
The police have intensified their special drive to curb this phenomenon. Codenamed Project Prahari (Vigilant), the project includes community policing, besides conducting regular awareness campaigns among tribal chiefs and village elders.

 
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